Finding a Puzzle Piece From My Past

This is a sweet, heart warming story. At least, it warms my heart. The events of the last few days have shed light on a long held memory of mine, and raised new questions. It’s like finding a missing puzzle piece, and being thrilled, yet still not knowing the significance of the completed picture.

A Penny For Candy

Working on an assignment in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I answered a series of questions about myself, from ages 0 – 5 years old. This was my first Memoir Task in the book. One of the questions was: What was your favorite book?

A Penny for Candy Me at about age 3, with my best friend, Larry. What adventurers we were!

Oh! I vividly recall my favorite book as a young child. In fact, for some unknown reason, I still think often about the book. It pops into my mind, along with illustrations that I remember. The memory is always accompanied by feelings of happiness, security and love.

I knew the story was about children who find pennies on the ground and, delighted with their treasures, off they run, skip and jump to the candy store to make a purchase. I couldn’t remember the title of the book though. As I sat with the question, thinking about that book, it suddenly occurred to me to use Google and search for it.

I am so grateful for Google! I typed in “children’s book + finding a penny to buy candy + 1940 – 1960”. In a few moments I had located a Rand McNally children’s book, published in 1946, called A Penny for Candy. I found the book on several sites, such as Amazon, Etsy and Ebay, that allowed me to see some of the interior pages. My heart beat faster as I saw the familiar illustrations. Yes! Yes, this was the book. I had found it. The strong emotions that surfaced around my heart confirmed it.

A Penny for Candy

A Penny for Candy

I did more than just look up the book. I purchased it. I bought two copies, from two sources, with different covers. I paid a pretty penny indeed, as this children’s book is considered vintage now! But I was thrilled to know that I would own this book again. Copy one arrived Monday. And copy two arrived today. I am so glad I bought both, because the one that was delivered today is a longer version of the story, with more illustrations. And that’s the book I remember.

A Penny for Candy

It is a sweet story about a boy named Jonathan Percival Pinkerton Jr. who finds a penny. On his way to the candy store to spend it, he encounters four of his friends, who agree to go with him to the candy store. On the way, in their excitement, they jump and run and climb and turn somersaults. And amazingly, Jonathan’s friends also each find a penny on the ground. Oh, the candy they will buy.

But when they arrive at the shop and select their treats, the children discover their pennies are missing. They all cry with disappointment. Jonathan’s father enters the store. After hearing the story, he laughs and explains that the same penny was found, and then lost out of their pockets, over and over as the children jumped and tumbled. He gives each of the kids a penny to spend, creating a happy ending for all.

I’ve read through this charming tale several times since my book arrived, and always that sense of joy and wonder fills me. Why? I am trying to understand why I have such a strong connection to this book. I visited my mom this afternoon and showed her the book. She remembered reading it to me as a small child. And she was surprised I’ve remembered it my entire life.

A Penny for Candy

I’m surprised too. And curious. I’m open to receiving an answer. The illustrations of the penny in the grass and the children with their faces pressed to the glass in the candy store create the greatest surges of emotions…happy feelings. Was this my first experience with a clever story? For I adore cleverness. Or did I love that the dad was a hero? Because my fearfulness as a child drew me toward heroes. Was I delighted one could find money on the ground and be able to buy candy with it? Or was it simply that I felt safe in my mother’s warm embrace, listening to her read the story? She surely read many books to me. Why is this particular story so rooted in my memory and connected to such strong emotions?

I am puzzling it out. And one observation I have is this: I’ve never been good at finding money on the ground. So why haven’t I? With this story to inspire me, wouldn’t I have been more aware of the possibility that money might appear on the ground?

A Penny for Candy

I am sorting it all out. The simple question about a favorite book from my childhood has led me on a delightful new adventure. I’m writing about it, asking the Divine questions, staying open to answers, and following my curiosity. I am wondering too what became of my buddy Larry. As I carry the questions, I am keeping A Penny for Candy close at hand. The book’s new home is on my bedside table.

And yesterday, in between the arrival of the books, I found a shiny new penny, on the floor, in an unexpected place. Well look at that, I thought as I picked it up. Tears came to my eyes as I held that penny. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, with my inner child and this book, but I know this. It’s all good. This journey is trying to show me something important. I’ll see where it leads. I think I’ll save every penny I find from now on, and create a penny jar to place near my book. And then I will find a treat to buy with my treasure.

A Penny for Candy

2 Replies to “Finding a Puzzle Piece From My Past”

  1. I just came across your post in searching for a picture if this book to show my kids. I had the blue copy of this book when I was little and when I placed a baby for adoption many years ago, I included my copy of this book with the few things I sent along with her to her new family. I love that she has it but wish I could also share it with my kids now. I’ve told the story to them to the best of my recollection but I know I don’t quite have it right. 🙂 May I ask, which book is the longer one? Thanks for sharing about this lovely book!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. What an amazing gift you gave to your daughter! The book with the red cover is the longer version of the story. When I googled the book I found it available for sale on several sites. I hope you can purchase a copy to share with your children. It’s incredible, the impact this little book has had on us!

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